Nearly one in three Australian women will have an abortion at some point in her life. Just over half of us will have an unplanned pregnancy and, reports suggest, the vast majority believe in our right to choose what to do, if and when it happens to us.
In part, this is because abortion law is determined at a state rather than at a federal level. Meaning the availability, cost and even legality of terminating a pregnancy varies depending on where in the country you happen to live. It’s also because, despite how common it is, too often we’re still made to feel it’s taboo.
Monique Bowley, Mia Freedman and Jessie Stephens discuss Tanya Davies’, the NSW Minister for Women, pro-life stance. Post continues below.
So, in an effort to clear up any confusion (and remove some lingering stigma), here’s what you need to know about getting an abortion in Australia, state by state, in 2016.
First thing’s first: What’s the difference between a surgical and medical abortion?
There are two types of abortion available to Australian women: medical and surgical. The procedure that’s right for you depends on how far along you are.
Surgical abortion involves a low-risk medical procedure in the first trimester of pregnancy (7-12 weeks). Known as a suction curette or suction aspiration, it involves the removal of the lining and contents of the womb, along with the developing embryo by a doctor. Different procedures are used in more advanced pregnancies.
Medical abortion is normally used in the first 7-9 weeks of pregnancy. It involves taking the so-called “abortion pill” Mifepristone (RU 486) and is 98 per cent effective.
The "abortion pill" RU 486 is a simple and effective way to terminate an early pregnancy. Source: Getty
How much does it cost?
The cost of your abortion will vary depending on which state you live in, whether you live in a metropolitan or regional area, the type of procedure you're having, who is providing it and whether or not you have private health insurance.
At least some of the cost (most often the standard 85 per cent rebate) will be covered by Medicare, putting the average out-of-pocket cost of a surgical abortion between $400 to $1500, depending on how many weeks pregnant you are. The best way to find the exact price is to ask your GP or contact your local clinic.
When it comes to a medical abortion, things are just as complex. In 2013, Julia Gillard added RU 486 to the taxpayer-subsidised pharmaceutical benefits scheme. This means the pill itself costs a mere $12, but getting it is still a challenge. Many providers will charge you for a 'treatment plan', which will set you back around $500 in the city and $700 if you live in a rural area.
That said, late last year a service was launched to give Australian women, particularly those living in remote locations, cheaper, more straightforward access to medical abortion via telephone.